Vegan Slow Cooker Green Olive Paella with Romesco

Traditional paella is loaded with seafood.  To make it vegan, I have incorporated some traditional vegetables, like artichokes and white beans, and have taken some poetic license by adding green olives, zucchini, and broccoli.  Derived from a crocus flower, saffron is one of the most expensive spices one can buy.  It has a distinct smell that fills the air--almost like honey, almost like hay.  I would argue, if it doesn't have saffron, it isn't paella.  It's worth spending the money to have a luxurious, slow cooker meal.

The first time I encountered romesco, I was positive it wasn't vegan.  Little did I know, the autonomous community of Catalonia has been making nut-based sauces long before the existence of "Buddha Bowls".  Often, it goes on top of seafood, but really, you can put it on anything--vegetables, crusty bread, paella.  If you end up putting in too much olive oil, you can add some toasted bread to the sauce to thicken it up.  It's what the Catalans would do.

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Vegan Slow Cooker Green Olive Paella

2 cups short grain rice

½ cup whole grape tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 small onion, diced

½ red bell pepper, diced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 cup broccoli florettes

⅓ cup whole green olives

1 can quartered artichokes

1 can white beans

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tsp paprika

1 ½ cubes fake chicken bouillon

3 cups water

½ lemon + 1 lemon, sliced

½ cup frozen peas

¼ cup scallions, chopped

1. Add everything through the 3 cups of water to your slow cooker.  Give it a stir.  Squeeze the ½ lemon into the mixture, and then, cut the lemon in half and add both halves into the mixture, as well.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 2.5-3 hours.  Stir in frozen peas after it finishes cooking.  Top with scallions.  Serve with romesco (recipe below) and slices of lemon.

Romesco 

1 large red pepper, roasted

3 garlic cloves

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp smoked paprika

10 grape tomatoes

1 Tbsp + ¼ cup olive oil

Salt

1. Cut the red pepper in half, and cover it in olive oil.  Put it under the broiler until it starts to blacken (~4 minutes).  Remove from the broiler, and let it cool down.

2. In a dry skillet over med-low heat, add the slivered almonds.  Stir them until they take on a golden hue and the smell of almonds fills the room.  Remove them from the skillet and allow to cool.  

3. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the skillet with 3 whole cloves of garlic.  Cook over med-low until the garlic is softened and golden.

4. Put everything in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust salt. Sauce will keep refrigerated for 5 days.

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